Harvey Norman and Compaq have been jousting over the boardroom table in an attempt to settle a kiss-and-make-up deal that will see the PC vendor return to the shelves of Australia's premier IT retailer.
Compaq's return to the retail Mecca would be conditional on Harvey's ability to sell both the consumer and commercial range, which may raise alarm bells amongst traditional resellers of the vendor's commercial products.
John Slack-Smith, Harvey Norman general manager of computers and communications, said the two companies had been in negotiations for several months and were close to reaching an agreement.
"If we were to reintroduce Compaq product to our stores, we would only be interested in having the entire range of their consumer and commercial products," Slack-Smith said. "We envisage the lion's share of sales would be in the consumer products, but we are talking about having the entire range of desktops, notebooks, handhelds and printers."
"The superstore concept has a core competency in stocking most of the brands that are household names, and having the full range of those brands," he said.
With Compaq desperate to get back into Harvey Norman's supplier books, and the past holding a considerable degree of angst between the two, the retailer appears to be driving a hard bargain. However, Slack-Smith denied that this was the case.
"The history is behind us," he said. "We are assessing the opportunities in the same way we would any other supplier."
Slack-Smith also would not rule out the possibility of getting Compaq involved in affinity programs, similar to the retailer's recently announced program to supply members of the Baptist Church with discount IBM PCs.
"Our affinity program is not exclusive to IBM," he said. "We haven't discussed it, but I am not ruling out the possibility that we might do something with Compaq or any of our other vendors in the future.
Slack-Smith said Harvey Norman currently has PC supply agreements with Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Toshiba, Packard-Bell, Acer, NEC and selected white-box suppliers.